What is the DSC2?
The Deer Stalking Certificate 2 (DSC2) follows on from the DSC1, which is an industry recognised qualification for UK deer stalkers and estate managers.
The DSC1 can be likened to taking a driving test – it is a largely a knowledge-based qualification which enables candidates to demonstrate their understanding of basic deer management principles and meat hygiene and to show competence in rifle safety and shooting at simulated deer targets.
The DSC2 is more like an advanced driving test where a stalkers skills and knowledge will be tested live in the field and witnessed by a DMQ ‘Approved Witness’.
The DSC1/2 qualifications are seen as a minimum standard for deer stalkers who stalk on their own and therefore is often a requirement for those wanting to join a deer stalking syndicate, lease land, stalk unaccompanied or conduct deer management on land owned/managed by public bodies such as the National Trust, RSPB, Forestry Commission etc.
Who should consider taking the DSC2?
In sort, all stalkers. The DSC2 is best suited for people who have good rifle skills and safety, have completed a good number of guided stalks and received training from a professional stalker working to DCS2 standards, can competently stalk on their own without supervision, have knowledge of industry best practices, despatched a good number of deer and who can competently gralloch, inspect carcasses, transport and larder shot deer.
Stalkers may well ask – am I ready to do DSC2? If you have been stalking under the guidance of a DMQ AW, they will advise you when they think you are ready. If not, you may consider coming on some training stalks with the Deer HUB’s professional stalkers and/or coming on our DSC2 Preparation course where we will give you advice as well as give you all the background knowledge required to confidently approach DSC2. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call James Mott on 0789 4146643 for a chat and/or more information.
So what is the process (in 5 steps)?
Step 1: Register for the DCS2
You will need to have successfully completed DSC1 before applying. You then register with one of the assessment centres, the most commonly used are the BASC, BDS and the NGO (The National Gamekeepers’ Organisation). Fill out the registration form and pay the appropriate fee (around £180).
You will then be sent an email with login details for the online portal which contains guidance and documents you will be required to submit (through the portal). From the date of registration, you have a 3 year period to successfully complete DSC2.
At this stage you will be allocated an Assessor. You should contact them to have a chat and they will give you guidance and assistance. Once you’ve made contact with your Assessor and understand the components and standards required, you are ready to go stalking with an Approved Witness.
Step 2: Get up to speed
Read the DMQ’s guidance notes and get up to speed with Industry best practice which you will be expected to follow on your witnessed stalk(s). You can find guidance online here. The specific performance criteria you will be judged on during your witnessed stalk(s) can be downloaded from the DMQ website here The ‘Individual Cull Record’ form is the form your AW completes and submits to the assessor after the stalk.
Not having this knowledge before undertaking DSC2 is what most commonly lets people down. To help, the Deer HUB offers a DSC2 Preparation one day training course which will get you 100% up to speed with everything you need to do (including more importantly what you shouldn’t do!!), the kit you need, current best practice and detailed information in our DSC2 manual explaining things like how to assess land, locating shot deer and follow up protocols, lymph nodes and their locations, notifiable diseases and reporting, how to transport and larder deer hygienically and how to fill in the DSC2 e-portfolio Candidate narrative and more. Email email@example.com or call james Mott on 0789 4146643 for more information.
Step 3: Find an Approved Witness (AW)
Once registered, you will have access to a list of UK Approved Witnesses (AW’s). Choose a witness in your area and contact them. Some DSC2 candidates have land over which they can stalk and some don’t. Speak to the AW and find out if they are willing to travel to your land to witness or whether they have suitable land over which you can stalk and find out what their fee(s) are. Also find out what experience they have. It is not uncommon to have to abandon a DSC2 stalk if the DMQ criteria isn’t being met. In the case of an aborted DSC2 stalk, you will need the AW to explain what has gone wrong and may be invited to continue stalking with the AW in a training role. In short, you need to find out how knowledgeable they are and whether you feel they are up to assisting you, should things not go to plan.
The Deer HUB has 3 very experienced approved witnesses if you require witnessed stalks in Essex, Kent, Sussex, Surrey, Hampshire and Oxfordshire either on your own land or on ours. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call James Mott on 0789 4146643 for more information.
Step 4: Your witnessed stalk session(s)
Set a date for your approved witness to meet you on your stalking ground or at their’s. Meet your AW at the agreed time where there will be some details to discuss briefly before setting out on your witnessed stalk.
You will take the lead on the stalk, find and select a deer to shoot (from a cull plan, agreed prior to stalk session with the AW), despatch a deer (safely), locate the shot deer, gralloch the deer, carry out the carcass inspection, extract the deer from the land, transport the deer to the larder facility, prepare the deer for the chiller, remove waste, clean up and complete larder records.
The AW is not there to assist you but to simply be there to observe and record what you do – so basically you are on your own. Don’t expect any ‘helpful tips’ or help with things like carcass extraction (unless you have specifically requested this beforehand).
If during a witnessed stalk the AW feels you are not up to the required standards, they may stop the stalk under assessment and invite you to carry on but as a training stalk. Experienced AW’s will be able to offer you guidance and training to prepare you for your next attempt.
Step 5: Submit Documentation
Following the stalk, an ICR (individual cull record) will be completed by the AW. This document includes detailed information about any deer shot on the stalk as well as 28 performance criteria requirements. The performance criteria is spread across 4 elements; stalking deer, culling deer, preparation and inspection of dead deer and transport and storage of dead deer. The DSC2 candidate completes a ‘narrative’ (a short overview of the stalk session and what took place) which are the submitted online for the assessor to review.
The DSC2 requires that along with demonstrating best practice you are able to despatch a deer during the assessment. Whether or not you meet the performance criteria in full and despatch a deer, documentation needs to be completed and submitted as evidence. Your assessor will discuss this with you and any performance criteria which needs completing can be signed off on another future witnessed stalk.
When all the evidence is submitted, the assessor will check it is complete and authentic. The assessor will then contact the AW and you to ask various questions to make sure they are confident your knowledge is up to the standard required by the governing body (DMQ).
Once the assessor is satisfied the standard has been met, they will sign off and you will get access to all the evidence documentation which you will then have the opportunity to review and sign off yourself. The documentation is then checked by an ‘Internal Verifier’(IV) and your DSC2 certificate will be issued.
Deer HUB DSC2 Training
The DSC2 should be very achievable deer stalkers who have gained a good amount of experience in the field and who are knowledgeable and up to speed with current deer management best practice. Leading the way in the field of stalker training the Deer HUB offers stalkers accompanied ‘training’ stalks with experienced DMQ approved witnesses. Our training is all in line with DSC2 criteria to fully prepare you and when ready, we have 3 very experienced AW’s who can conduct DSC2 witnessed stalks in Essex, Kent, Sussex, Surrey, Hampshire and Oxfordshire either on your own land or on ours.
We also offer a comprehensive DSC2 Preparation one day training course which will get you 100% up to speed with everything you need for DSC2; the kit you will need, current best practices and detailed information in our DSC2 manual explaining things like how to assess land, locating shot deer and follow up protocols, lymph nodes and their locations, notifiable diseases and reporting, how to transport and larder deer hygienically and how to fill in the DSC2 e-portfolio Candidate Narrative and more.
For more information about our DSC2 training options or to discuss DSC2 email email@example.com or call James Mott on 0789 4146643